Can a Parent Who Acts As a Coguarantor to Secure Financing for a Child's Car Be Held Liable Under the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine ?
The Second District in Marshall v. Gawel, 696 So. 2d 937, 938-39 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997), examined the dangerous instrumentality doctrine in the context of a family relationship.
Similar to Metzel, the issue in Marshall was whether the legal title holder of a motor vehicle could be held vicariously liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. See id.
In Marshall, the defendant mother was the legal title holder of the vehicle, although she merely signed as a coguarantor to help her daughter obtain the necessary financing to purchase the vehicle. See id. at 938.
After the defendant mother's husband negligently drove the vehicle and injured the plaintiff, the plaintiff sought to hold the mother accountable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. See id.
However, the mother claimed that even though the vehicle was titled solely in her name, she was not liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine because she:
(1) did not pay for the vehicle, its insurance, or its maintenance;
(2) never drove the vehicle or had keys to it;
(3) had no authority or control over the vehicle's use. See id.